College Football Pick’em
Start or Sit (NFC Home Games)
U.S. Soccer Podcast
Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi will lead Argentina at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this month and the 35-year-old is in some of the best form of his late career after an impressive start to his second season in France.
Les Parisiens’ No. 30 has scored seven goals and added 10 assists in Ligue 1 already this campaign with four more goals and assists in the UEFA Champions League across 17 appearances.
Add in his goal which helped to secure the Trophee des Champions at the start of this term and Messi has 12 goals and 14 assists from 18 outings across all competitions — already better than his debut season’s tally of 11 goals and 14 assists in Ligue 1 and Champions League combined.
The former Barcelona man certainly appears to be more at ease at Parc des Princes this year and the South American combines well with historic partner in crime Neymar, as well as PSG’s main star Kylian Mbappe. Head coach Christophe Galtier regularly marvels at “genius” Messi’s brilliance.
“People come to the stadium just to see Leo,” said the French tactician after the recent 3-0 win away at AC Ajaccio. “He is the greatest player in the history of the game.”
However, La Pulga’s French renaissance has raised some interesting possibilities in the twilight of his career with the French champions keen to keep hold of him, but former employers Barca are also keen to bring him back to Catalonia and Major League Soccer keener than ever to bring him to Miami.
This winter’s World Cup in Qatar — the country of PSG’s owners — could well be the stage for Messi to remind everybody that he is still capable of performing consistently at the highest level and not just club matches where the Ligue 1 giants are overwhelming favorites in almost every game.
“I expect one day for Messi to play in MLS… for Inter Miami.” 🇺🇸
“It’s not decided yet if it will be next summer… Leo is really happy in Paris.” 🗼
“We have to wait at least 2, 3, 4 months to understand what happens.” ⏳@FabrizioRomano reports on the Messi to Miami rumors pic.twitter.com/o4fgrsHaXz
The Albiceleste are desperate to win the most prestigious prize in international soccer before their legendary talisman retires from active duty and it is unlikely that he plays on until 2026 despite his impressive longevity.
Given Messi’s current form and the Argentine turnaround under Lionel Scaloni, they certainly head to Qatar as one of the favorites as reigning Copa America champions, and their favorable Group C draw with Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland only adds to the feeling that they will go far.
When he arrived in the French capital after departing Barca in tears, much was made of the fact that Messi’s contract included a clause which enables him to place great importance upon international commitments with Argentina.
There is already speculation in France that this could come into effect for the final match before the international pause when PSG host AJ Auxerre at Parc des Princes next week and he has already missed a few matches this season through an injury picked up away at SL Benfica in Europe.
10 – Lionel Messi’s fewest games in a Top 5 European Leagues campaign to deliver 10 assists :
2010-11 : 14
2018-19 : 14
2021-22 : 16
2008-09 : 19
Playmaker. #PSGESTAC pic.twitter.com/ie0LlywTqN
Given that Les Parisiens incredibly lost top spot in Champions League Group H to the Portuguese giants on Wednesday despite a 2-1 win away at Juventus, which was arguably one of Messi’s quietest outings this campaign, Galtier will need the South American to return for domestic duty motivated.
Considering that Messi, Neymar and Mbappe could all be embarking upon deep runs at this World Cup with Argentina, Brazil and France all fancied as favorites, the trio could return in various physical and mental states depending upon the outcome in Qatar.
A tougher continental draw than expected should help that and give PSG an important clash to immediately work towards once club action resumes, which could aid this impressive prolongation of very good form which Messi is enjoying.
His future will be up in the air once the World Cup has played out, but this season so far has already shown that arguably the best player to have ever played still has something to give at the highest level.
© 2004-2022 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
CBS Sports is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting Inc. Commissioner.com is a registered trademark of CBS Interactive Inc.
Images by Getty Images and US Presswire